How to Get Top Value When You Sell a Stock Photo

If you are active online and on photo sharing social media sites, it is quite possible you will be contacted by someone interested in using your photograph. That requested usage could be for a variety of things from buying a print to licensing the image in a magazine or brochure or a website.

First, it is my opinion if someone wants your image for an unauthorized use then they will just take it in one form or another and I am not covering that angle here. Instead, I want to look at legitimate requests to use your landscape nature photography and the steps that you should consider before agreeing to the sale.

The first good sign is that someone is asking to use your nature or landscape pictures, but that could easily be followed by “we don’t have a budget.” Granted we are all competing with free images these days and that makes it tougher, BUT…they know that and if they wanted free they would go get it. Instead they contacted you because your image caught their attention. So here’s what you do….

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Here is One Example of Why You Always Negotiate Price First

I received a call a few weeks ago from a photographer friend who was my assistant 20 years ago. He is an outdoor adventure photographer and has a successful business these days.

He needed advice and my opinion.

He had just wrapped up an assignment for a major beer company, one you all know and if you drink beer, you probably have drunk theirs.

They had contacted him at the last minute to shoot some outdoor imagery with people at a location in the mountains where the beer company was involved in an ‘outdoor promotional program’ at an event.

READ MORE +Here is One Example of Why You Always Negotiate Price First

How To Quote The Photography Assignment

A stock photo client calls you with an assignment. The photo buyer likes your photography and enjoys working with you and now wants you to shoot a project.

Commercial clients who purchase your stock images are likely to assume you shoot assignments. If, up to now, you’ve only shot for stock, consider this article a primer to prepare you for taking the step into assignment photography.

Unlike shooting stock, assignments are not speculative and have specific client requirements. Often these requirements are unavailable in a stock photo. For example, the client may want a photo of its product–with the logo prominent in the image–being used on a backpacking trip.

Assignments require planning, estimating/budgeting and production. Most often you are required to prepare an estimate for the client that will pull all of the elements together.

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Why You Should Always Get Paid Up Front

Have you ever had a client buy something from you and then not pay? If you have not then you are very lucky.

I got a call a two years ago from a small ‘one-person’ calendar publishing company who had seen my work around and needed some pictures for next years calendar.  We talked briefly about what he needed and he threw out some names of other photographers he had worked with, names I knew.

I sent him thumbnails and he picked two shots for the calendar and we settled on price.

I next sent him the two high resolution versions by ftp and followed two days later with an invoice.

A year and a half later I FINALLY got paid. Was I stupid by trusting a total stranger? Yep! These situations make me want to quit trusting the client and instead ask them to trust me. So I’ve changed my strategy, demanding as much as I can to get paid up front and here is how I handle it now.

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5 Reasons Your Photography Isn’t Selling

For those in the business of licensing their stock photography, times are challenging if not difficult. The market for stock imagery is competitive and saturated and making sales is difficult.

More photographers than ever are in the business sharing the same dream to succeed at their passion. And with the job market in the ditch even more shooters are entering the business looking to make any money to offset their job loss.

The poor market, lousy economy, and competition may not be the only reasons your work may not be selling. As co-founder of online agency, Fogstock, I have looked at countless images submitted by photographers for consideration and we see a mix of the same old places as well as some new and unique imagery.

Here are 5 reasons photography doesn’t sell and some thoughts on what to do about it.

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The Role of Negotiations

by Drake Fleege

It’s a great day – the photo buyer has made contact to license your image.  To facilitate this transaction it is necessary to ask a few questions.  The generic questions are of importance.  These include: the image selected, intended utilization, (cover, inside, image size), publication, distribution, and frequency of use.  These questions are easily handled with most photo licensing calculators.  If this is all that is needed, the image can be licensed and sale made, assuming the calculator returned a figure within the licensee’s budget.  The transaction becomes essentially a commodity purchase, regardless of the price of the license fee or the quality of the image.

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Rights Managed Licensing and Negotiations

by Drake Fleege

In my previous life, before fulltime photography, I was selling large two-way radio communication systems for Motorola.   In addition to marketing our solutions, solving problems,  building relationships,  and ultimately selling the systems, a key part was negotiations.   To me, this was the most fun, as it required learning the customer’s needs and offer solutions that would satisfy those requirements.

Early on I learned that money (i.e. cost) was not the largest concern, though it was the one item most often mentioned.   I also learned (through many training sessions and experience) that a successful negotiations should have many points for discussion.  It is through negotiating different items that offers and counteroffers can occur, trust can be established, and a win-win solution can be obtained.  If there is only one item on the negotiations table, such as price, the result will never be a win-win situation.  There can only be one winner and one loser.  Unfortunately that’s not negotiations but rather a zero-sum game.  All or nothing.

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Is This The Future for Licensing To Text Books?

I teach an online class about the business of nature photography and last winter I had a student in the course that I just received an email from the other day regarding a stock usage that was proposed to him.

The student was contacting me for my opinion on a potential stock sale of an old image he had taken in the 80’s. He had been contacted by a text book company who had found his blog and the picture of the Yellowstone fire aftermath in the late 80’s. (Thanks to excellent keywording.)

They wanted to license the picture and said the target print run would be 1,000,000 text books, which I think is the planned print run before a total re-edit of the book. They offered $1200.00 for the use for a 4×6 inside use.

Now my pricing guide suggests a 1 million print run would be around $1000.00 and is probably the rate I would have quoted, but things have changed since this book was published in 2007. In this economy with plummeting prices, what can you really expect to get? Is the ‘normal’ rate a little lower or a lot lower? 

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What Do Photo Buyers Think? A New Report Released

Have you ever wondered just what photo buyers think? If not you should be. Photo buyers are your bread and butter, your meal ticket, and are the key to the success of your outdoor and nature photography business.

Mikael Karlsson in association with Photosource International has just released his new eBook/survey on just what photo buyers think, about many different things related to working with stock photographers.

  • The key to successful marketing is to know and understand the needs of your target audience. In this fast paced world of ours knowing the needs of your potential clients isn’t always enough. You must know enough about your marketing  targets to get them to look at your promotional materials in the first place.

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